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Dr. Tallant's Classes

The American Studies Major

Department of History

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The American Revolution and Early National Period

Georgetown College, History 308
Syllabus, Fall Semester, 1994
Pawling Hall 303, 2:00-2:50 MWF

Professor: Dr. Harold D. Tallant
Office: Pawling Hall 206
Phone: (502) 863-8075

Fall Semester 1994 Office Hours: Monday 3:00-4:00
Tuesday & Thursday 1:00-2:00, 2:30-3:30

Course Description: This course is a study of the founding of the United States. The course covers the origin, nature, and consequences of the American Revolution, the early years of government under the Articles of Confederation, the adoption of the United States Constitution, and the political development of the new nation through the War of 1812.

Textbooks and Required Readings: Students are required to read the following books:

    Norman K. Risjord, Jefferson's America, 1760-1815 (Madison, Wisc.: Madison House Publishers, 1991)

    Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980; paperback ed., New York: W. W. Norton, 1982)

    Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People At War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979; paperback ed., New York: W. W. Norton, 1981)

    Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992; paperback ed., New York: Vintage Books, 1993)

The instructor may, from time to time, assign additional readings to supplement the required books listed above.

Course Objectives: Students will be able to discuss the factors which contributed to the coming of the American Revolution, the forces which influenced the outcome of the War of the Revolution, the effects of the Revolution on the course of American democracy, and the factors which shaped the efforts to build a government for the New Nation. Students will be able to critically evaluate two recent monographs on the Revolutionary period and to assess the impact of these books on the historical interpretation of the Revolutionary period.

Requirements of the Course

Exams: All exams will be essay exams. Three exams will be given during the course of the semester. Each of the first two exams will cover about one-third of the course material and each will count for 25 percent of the student's final grade. The first two exams have been tentatively scheduled for September 26 and November 2. The third exam will cover the last third of the course material and the book The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood. Questions on the Wood book will require some review of material covered on the first two exams. The third exam will count for 35 percent of the student's final grade and will be given during the final exam period on Friday, December 9, at 12:00-2:00.

Position Paper and Panel Discussion: Each student will prepare and present to the class a position paper on one of the following issues: (1) Was political ideology the most important factor which prompted the American Revolution? (2) Was the course of the American Revolution decisively shaped by class conflict within American society? (3) Was the adoption of the U.S. Constitution the logical outgrowth of the revolutionary principles or a refutation of those principles? (4) Did Thomas Jefferson have a slave mistress? (5) Were the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional? (6) Did Congress make the correct decision in 1812 to go to war to stop Britain's interference with American interests? Students must pick the subject of their report by August 29.

Students will present their arguments orally during class in a panel discussion with other students working on the same topic. The panel discussions have been tentatively scheduled for the following dates: (1) Political ideology--September 9; (2) Class conflict in the Revolution--October 3; (3) Constitution--October 28; (4) Jefferson--November 7; (5) Alien and Sedition Acts--November 16; (6) War of 1812--November 30.

Each student will also summarize their arguments in a written paper, which is due at the time the oral presentation is made. While there is no maximum or minimum length required for the written report, papers of 10-12 pages are ideal. The position paper and oral presentation will count for 15 percent of the student's final grade. More detailed instructions about the preparation of the position paper will be given later.

Make-Up Assignments: Students will be allowed to make up missed assignments only with the consent of the instructor. Ordinarily, the instructor will accept make-up assignments only in cases of unavoidable student absences, such as those caused by illness or by a death in the immediate family. Students may be required to document the causes of their absences before the make-up work will be accepted by the instructor.

Course Outline: See the schedule below.

Grading and Evaluation of Students: The following grading scale will be used in this course: A 90.0--100.0; B 80.0--89.9; C 70.0--79.9; D 60.0--69.9; F 59.9 and below. Final semester grades for the course will be determined by counting the course assignments and exams in the following proportions: exam 1--25 percent; exam 2--25 percent; exam 3--35 percent; position paper and oral presentation--15 percent. Class attendance will also affect the final semester grade. See the section on attendance below.

Attendance: Class attendance will be checked in every class period. At the end of the semester, class attendance will be used in calculating the final semester grade.

Attendance records will be used to determine the final grade of students who are on the borderline between two grades (i.e., students who are within one semester point of the higher grade). In the case of a student who is on the borderline between two grades, the student with 0-2 unexcused absences will receive the higher of the two grades.

Students with 6 or more unexcused absences will receive the following penalties: 6-8 absences--minus one letter grade from semester average; 9-11 absences--minus two letter grades from semester average; 12 or more absences--the grade of F for the semester.

The following constitute excused absences: (1) illness, with a note from a doctor or the dean; (2) death in the immediate family, with a note from the dean; (3) required appearance in a court of law, with a note from the dean; (4) representing the college in an extracurricular activity, with a note from the faculty or administrative adviser of the activity and the prior approval of the instructor of this course.

Please note that some college extracurricular activities do not justify an excused absence, so prior approval of the absence by the instructor is required. Athletes who plan to miss class for a game must notify the instructor before each absence to receive an excused absence. Students who plan to miss class for such activities as work, job interviews, job fairs, weddings, vacations, completing work for other courses, etc., should save their cuts for these purposes.

Students who arrive late to a session of the class should check with the instructor at the end of that class session to be certain that their attendance has been recorded.

Auditors: Students who are auditing the course will receive an audit credit only if they have 5 or fewer absences in the class. Auditors are not required to come to class on exam days.

Schedule: The following tentative schedule should be used as a guide for the completion of assignments and readings. Required readings are listed below the topic of each day's class.


Aug. 22
Introduction to the Course

Aug. 24
Mercantilism, the Navigation Acts, and the Colonial Economy

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 1-36

Aug. 26
Population Growth, The Great Awakening, and the Development of an American Identity

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 36-54

Aug. 29
The Colonial Wars: The War of the League of Augsburg, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of the Austrian Succession

  • Deadline for choosing topic of position paper--Aug. 29

Aug. 31
The Colonial Wars: The Seven Years' War

Sep. 2
British Government in America: Theory and Structures; The Enlightenment in America

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 54-55

Sep. 5
The Political Theory of Republicanism

  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 5-75

Sep. 7
The Political Theory of Republicanism

  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 76-104


Sep. 9
The Problems of Empire, 1760-63

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 56-61
  • Panel discussion on political ideology.

Sep. 12
Pontiac's Rebellion and the Proclamation of 1763

Sep. 14
George Grenville's Program of Colonial Reorganization and the Sugar Act of 1764

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 61-63

Sep. 16
The Stamp Act Crisis and the Rise of an Organized Colonial Protest Movement, 1765-66

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 63-70

Sep. 19
The Repeal of the Stamp Act and The Townshend Acts Crisis, !766-70

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 70-74

Sep. 21
The Boston Massacre of 1770; The Decline and Resurgence of the Colonial Protest Movement, 1770-73; the Origins of the Tea Act Crisis, 1773-74

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 74-85

Sep. 23
The Coercive Acts and the the First Continental Congress of 1774

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 85-90

Sep. 26
Exam 1
will be given September 26.


Sep. 28
The First Continental Congress; The Breakdown of British Authority, 1774-75; The Battle of Lexington and Concord (1775)

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 90-94

Sep. 30
The Second Continental Congress, the Creation of the Continental Army, and the Expansion of the War, 1775

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 94-96
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, vii-53

Oct. 3
The Growth of Support for American Independence; Tom Paine's Common Sense, 1775-76

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 96-98
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 54-102
  • Panel discussion on class conflict in the Revolution

Oct. 5
The Debate in Congress about Independence; The Declaration of Independence, 1776; The Military Balance Sheet of the War

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 98-100

Oct. 7
The Military Balance Sheet of the War; The British Invasion of New York and New Jersey, 1776

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 100-107
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 102-126

Oct. 10
The War in 1777; The Battle of Saratoga and the Making of the Franco-American Alliance (1778)

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 107-118
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 127-254

Oct. 12
The War Becomes a World War, 1778-80; Britain's Southern Campaign, 1778-80; Pacification and Counterinsurgency Warfare

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 118-124
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 255-294

Oct. 14
The Southern Campaign, Yorktown, and the Defeat of the British, 1780-83

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 124-127
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 295-330

Oct. 17

Oct. 19
Peace Negotiations and the Treaty of Paris (1783)

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 127-131


Oct. 21
The Articles of Confederation; the Western Lands Issue; Robert Morris and the Confederation Government

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 132-145

Oct. 24
Robert Morris, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Politics of Confederation; the Problems of the Confederation, 1781-87

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 145-152
  • Royster, Revolutionary People at War, 331-370

Oct. 26
The Problems of Confederation and The Movement for Constitutional Reform, 1786-87

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 152-158
  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 105-135

Oct. 28
The Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the Formation of the U.S. Constitution

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 158-164
  • Panel discussion on the Constitution

Oct. 31
The Ratification Struggle and the Organization of the New Government, 1787-89

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 164-173

Nov. 2
Exam 2
will be given November 2.


Nov. 4
The Washington Administration and Hamilton's Financial Program, 1789-91

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 208-215

Nov. 7
The Rise of the Jeffersonian-Madisonian Opposition Group, 1791-92

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 215-216
  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 136-165
  • Panel discussion on Jefferson

Nov. 9
American Neutrality and the Renewal of the Anglo-French Warfare, 1793-94

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 216-218

Nov. 11
Unrest on the Frontier: the Whiskey Rebellion and Indian Wars; Jay's Treaty and the Emergence of Political Parties, 1793-96

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 218-227

Nov. 14
The Election of 1796 and the Rise of the First American Party System

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 227-229
  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 166-184

Nov. 16
The Adams Administration, the Quasi-War with France, and the Alien and Sedition Acts, 1797-1801

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 230-236
  • Panel discussion on the Alien and Sedition Acts

Nov. 18
The Election of 1800 and the Decline of the Federalists; the "Jeffersonian Revolution"

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 236-247

Nov. 21
The Republicans' Campaign against the Federalist Judiciary, 1801-05

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 247-253

Nov. 23
Republican Schisms: John Randolph and the Tertium Quids; the Burr Conspiracy, 1802-07

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 260-264

Nov. 25

Nov. 28
The Louisiana Purchase and the Struggle for Neutral Rights, 1805-11

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 253-260, 264-270
  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 185-235

Nov. 30
James Madison and the Causes of the War of 1812

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 270-283
  • Panel discussion on the War of 1812

Dec. 2
The War of 1812 (1812-15): The Second War of American Independence?

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 283-299
  • McCoy, Elusive Republic, 236-259

Dec. 5
American Culture in the Age of the American Revolution

  • Risjord, Jefferson's America, 174-207

Dec. 7
The Age of the American Revolution: Radical or Conservative?

  • Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Final Exam

Dec. 9
Exam 3
will be given Friday, December 9, at 12:00-2:00.

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Dr. Harold D. Tallant, Department of History, Georgetown College
400 East College Street, Georgetown, KY 40324, (502) 863-8075